Forget Bamford: “Passionate” man was the most vital cog in Leeds’ win over Aston Villa – opinion

October 24, 2020

Leeds United won 3-0 against Aston Villa on Friday night and there’s only one man that is likely to get the plaudits for that victory.

Indeed, Patrick Bamford’s hat-trick has been the talk of the town in the wake of United’s third Premier League win of the season, and we can absolutely understand why as the Grantham-born forward was on fire against the Villans.

However, what shouldn’t be forgotten is that the game could have easily swung the other way.

Indeed, in the first 20 minutes, Villa were the better side and Leeds looked as though they were in trouble with Pascal Struijk on the pitch.

The 21-year-old looked like a walking red card, picking up his first yellow within 10 minutes before making two more dangerous challenges that could have seen him issued his marching orders.

After 20 minutes, Marcelo Bielsa had seen enough and he made a change that may have won the game for Leeds.

He brought Shackleton on for Struijk, negating the risk of the red card and allowing Leeds to once again play with the intensity and aggression in the midfield that they’re renowned for.

If Struijk had been sent off and Leeds had been forced to play over an hour with 10-men, it’s hard to envisage United running away with the game in the same manner in the second half.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to us that Bielsa has the footballing mind to make these type of game-winning changes early on, he has been lauded as the best coach in the world in the past.

Hooking a 21-year-old in their first start in a new position after just 20 minutes may look harsh, but Bielsa needed to do it and he didn’t beat around the bush in pursuit of a victory. That’s to be expected from a man described by his own players as “relentless” and “passionate”, winning is the most important thing in football and Bielsa certainly knows how to do it.

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